06 February 2015

Where is LeeZe? Fuel System Tear-out and Replacement; Jan 2015 Çanakkale, Turkey


Dear readers,

This is a special winter edition of the blog.

We are here in Çanakkale, Turkey moored in the city's marina. We have experienced this winter days as high as 20+ C, lows as low as -4 C; winds over 70 knots gusting, rain… well like buckets from the sky. We have watched ferry boat traffic from here across to the other side slow down to just one BIG ferry making the run as the winds made it just too dangerous for the other 3 ferries to run. We watched as that event caused a traffic jam the likes one might see on a Monday morning commute going into a major US City. (We come to learn that this occurs when the ferries to the North of Çanakkale are sidelined due to the intense weather on the Sea of Marmara. This crossing is the only one that might still be active in weather that is so severe that it stops all other car and truck ferries.)

So, off and on, since LeeZe became ours, I have been having fuel system issues. I had fuel leaks I could not find, fuel leaks I could not stop, fuel leaks I stopped but they recurred, vacuum leaks that seem to come and go, and one persistent vacuum leak that just defied locating. (I have even had fuel filter elements collapse into a heap inside their associated canisters.)

How do I know I had these vacuum leaks? My main engine primary fuel/water separator filter over time would fill up with air, causing an engine shutdown. When I vent that filter, air would come out, fuel would fill the filter, and the engine could be restarted. Underway, venting it periodically required a Rube Goldberg procedure that I knew I would screw up one day and possible damage the main engine.

I "conquered" this problem by wrapping each and every joint that could possible be under vacuum using plastic stretch wrap, and then taped the mess together. It "solved" the immediate problem but every time I went into the engine room, I looked at that mess and knew I could not let it stay.

And I still had fuel leaks. Small ones mind you but still leaks. And, I had fuel in the bilge coming from pipes I could not see nor reach.

Now the yard thought it put together a pretty bullet-proof system, in their mind. But honestly, it was a mis-mash of different pipe diameters, couplings and connectors. My guess is that they used what pipe they had on hand, slapped it together, used copious amounts of teflon tape and thread sealant, and in two particular cases, super-human strength to make the connections and not have any OBVIOUS fuel leaks.

In Kusadasi, we put on 1500 watts of solar panels, and this past cruising season, they supplied enough so that we used only about 25-30 liters of diesel fuel for the generator. Since the tank holds 42 liters, and the fuel use is under 1 liter per hour at 70% load, we only filled that tank once.

In winter, we have a diesel fired heater that is filled using a hose from the fuel system.

I decided to rip out the entire fuel system and redo it. Before I did that, I sat in the engine room and thought and looked and pondered and thought some more. Zehra thought I was crazy. What I was doing was in my mind, redesigning the system to what I needed.

With the help of a local Çanakkale boater, I was introduced to a hydraulic hose shop in town. This boater also introduced me to a pipe guy also.

I toyed with replacing the system with either SS of brass pipes, but the pipe guy said it would cost a fortune. So, that left the hose guy.

What I wanted down they had never done before. They said they were willing to make it up, but could not guarantee that my problems would be solved. They were suggesting to use 10mm inside diameter hose with full port manual hydraulic system rated valves.

The next size up was 25 mm and I knew that was way to big.

I thought this 10 mm hose would be fine because the hose the main engine company provided to connect to the fuel system was 3/8" diameter which is 9.5 mm inside diameter.

So, first, had to disconnect the old piping. Now, some of the couplings used an 18 mm wrench, most used 22 or 27 mm, but 8 needed a 36 mm wrench to undo. And remember that super human strength comment? Well, two of these 36 mm couplings were tighten with such force that they were deformed (therefore there NO HOPE of getting them to stop leaking) and to separate them required a wrench, a breaker bar, and two burly hydraulic shop guys.

Taking apart the others also required a lot of sweat, many scraped knuckles, and in more than a few cases, numerous use of a large rubber mallet.

As more of the system came apart, leaks that I thought I had stopped I had not. Vacuum lines leaked fuel when under pressure during fuel cleaning, pressurized connections were weeping small amounts of diesel fuel, and the main engine's fuel pump fuel supply line connection had been over torqued during assembly and the housing was cracked. (I thought I was going to have to buy a new fuel pump, and when I priced it, it was over $500. However, the hydraulic shop said this happens a lot and they had a pre-engineered repair procedure that restored it like new. Whew! Dodged a $$$ bullet)

Once apart, it was time to measure and get the new hoses made up. Using pictures, a drawing on how I wanted to change the system, and suggestions from the shop people, we slowly got the stuff made. At times, given what needed to be done, they found the part and modified it on the lathe since in general, their parts are for the big boy hydraulic machines, not my teeny-ass fuel system.

But, with nary a complaint, we got it done. Installation was a whole lot easier using machined connectors with internal o-rings that would seal under pressure or vacuum without thread sealant. There was 4 places where thread sealant was required but even then, I was confident these would not leak.

Of course, I made a mistake. I decided to keep one valve from the original system. It is a 3-way valve directing fuel to either of the two fuel pumps I have. Keeping this valve meant that custom connectors had to be turned on the lathe and for some foolish reason, I kept this valve.

So, I get the system together 10+ days ago and while the engine runs fine, there was STILL A DAMN VACUUM LEAK. How do I know? The same filter as before is filling up with air, more slowly mind you than before, but still filling with air.

So, I sit in the engine room and ponder my dilemma. First I think it is the fuel filter connectors recently repaired but nope, not them. Then I check to see if maybe I had cracked the other fuel pump housing or connectors… nope nada. Then I check to see if I cross threaded any connection… nope, had not. Then check to see if maybe the new valves are not vacuum tight (yup, they are.)

Finally, there is one valve I just could not figure out how to check–The three way valve. By process of elimination, it has to be the source, but from where I am clueless.

So, take that valve out and take it to the hardware store where I buy fitted brass plugs so I can plug the ports, then off to a gas station where I pressurize the valve using the air pump used to fill tires (you should have seen the look on the station's attendants but they did not interfere!).

At 30 psi, could not tell anything. At 50 psi, the leak "announced" itself with a shrill noise. The location? The valve's stem is leaking.

Great! Back to LeeZe, take the valve apart, noticed rust inside, or what looked like rust. Thought that was strange. Cleaned that up, resealed the stem with new "o" rings, re-assembled, and went back to the gas station.

You can guess where this is going………

Valve leaked again. Same place–lower pressure.

Off to the hydraulic shop with valve in hand. (Please keep in mind that I am using my folding 20" bicycle to get around town!) Explain the problem the best that I could and while doing that, the owner slips away, only to return a few minutes later with a catalog, showing this same model valve, with a description that says in effect, this valve is not to be used in a vacuum system.


Back to LeeZe. Now it is Friday, a week ago. Back I go and sit in the engine room. I need to replace this three-way valve with another manifold. Sketch something up and decide to sleep on it.

Monday, back to the shop with my sketch of a two valve manifold coming off a hydraulic pipe tee. and 4 hoses that have to be modified. All is ready in about four hours (more machining!) and back to LeeZe to install. Nope, not right. Where the shop thought I needed a 90 degree fitting, I did not. Back to the shop, they correct, we have a tea (the thread sealant has to be given some time to do its thing before testing) and back on the bike to LeeZe.

On this ride, the sky opens, hail pours down, lightning announces the thunder's arrival, and my head hurts from being pounded on by the hail.

Back on board I assemble the items, but since it is almost dinner time, decide to test the next day.

Tuesday, after breakfast, with Zehra at the fuel cleaning pump switch at the helm with a walkie-talkie, I check everything, align the valves as needed, and she starts the pump.

I hear strange noises as the pump pulls the fuel from the tank thru the filters that were filled with some air, thru empty hoses, and back to the tank. But after a few minutes, all the strange noises stop, the normal pump noise is all that I am hearing, and differential pressure across the filters is higher than "normal" (and these are brand new) so it appears that I have increased the flow thru the system. Later I do I test and where before it took just over 3 minutes to fill a 5 liter bottle, now it is just under two.

It appears all is as it should be so I sit at the system, peering hard for any tell-tales leaks.

Seeing none, and after hours, there is no discernible air in that fuel filter, I think I can declare victory. (I take a picture of the new system and give it to the shop, just to show them what it looks like.)

But, of course, not really done.

In the process of making this change, there is about 12 meters of fuel lines that I am no longing using. These direct fuel to the generator and diesel heater. Since removing them at this second is not a priority, I decide to cap them. Taking pictures of what I want to cap, I go off to my trusty hardware store and he gives me 4 caps.

Yup, too easy…… They do not work. Thursday back to him to return said caps, off to the hose shop who ponders and ponders and then gives to me two caps to try, then back to LeeZe where those NEW caps do not work. (That picture I gave to them? The owner got a frame and put it up on his wall, next to his business license, with LeeZe's boat card in the frame! How cool is that

Looking around at all of the pipe parts and pieces I have, I come to see that there is a common connector that could work. To make a long story short, I find 4 connectors, go to the hardware store, found 4 brass caps that work, pay the store some $2, and come back to LeeZe and cap those lines.

Now I am done.

In total, I counted today that the old system used 19 pieces of various diameter and lengths of pipe, 9 valves, and 111 couplings or connectors.

The new system has 10 valves (but no "T" valve!), and some 57 connectors / couplings, with 50 of those machined and fitted with an "O" ring, 1 hose clamp, and the rest thread sealed. The fuel return line from the engine is now one continuous piece of hose so the leaks from the multiple coupling return line are a thing of the past!

I now have a hose to fill the generator and diesel heat fuel tanks, so those hard pipes are capped and can no longer leak.

Visually, the system looks cleaner. I will get valve tags made up but even Zehra can figure out how to properly align the fuel system so fuel can get to the engine.

I have a new capability of being able to completely isolate either fuel pump and change it without having to shutdown the engine.

Here are some before and after pictures

12 January 2015

Where is LeeZe? Sept Moudros > Oct 2014 Çanakkale, Turkey

Dear readers,

Sorry for the delay in writing this but I had some computer problems that had to be resolved before I could finish  writing this blog.

I left the last entry with our arrival in Moudros Gr on 2 Sept.

The town is quite a sleepy one and we have come to learn that it is SO SLEEPY that when a new boat arrives at the dock, the many of the town's people come out to check it out. Our French dock mates had warned us about this but it is a little creepy to be eating dinner or watching TV when two or more strangers peak in on you. It turns out that we are the new show in town until a very large yacht comes in to the commercial pier, but alas, it does not stay long.

The approach to the harbor is scary as my various references on board state that the water is just 3-4 meters deep in the channel, much less outside the channel, rocks everywhere, and the channel itself is not marked well. But we purchased a cruising guide from Eagle Ray out of Athens that for all intensive purposes, was like having a person with local knowledge in the pilot house. This guide was accurate and detailed, and gave us the confidence that we needed to enter without mishap. We moored side too because that harbor was so small and shallow in so many places that side too was all that was available. And, even though med moor was not possible, the local authorities charged us a 25% surcharge for being side too. Still, at about 10 euros a day with electricity and water, that was not bad.

Town itself is quite small. The main restaurants are along the harbor's wall, and there are none in the town itself. There are sandwich shops in town along with a couple of grocers and a very (!) nice hardware store. The town was the place where during WW1and II, many ships came in to prepare for war against Russia. The pictures that we saw showed so little room between the ships that one could appear to walk from one to the other. This is also the harbor where the UK, Aussie, and NZ forces used to prepare for their assault on Turkey in 1915. Again, wall to wall ships. (I may have some of this history wrong.)

Tourists come to this town to visit the Cathedral

we are told but in our numerous walks into town, we never found it open. This town was just a little too quiet for us, 

but for our French dock mates, they must have loved it because they had been here for more than a month and did not seem to be in a hurry to leave.

But we did, at the first weather window, move to Myrina. The day was 8 Sept and the move was not too bad.

We find the city wall somewhat empty 

and with the help of the first, and so far, only day-tripper boat Captain (to our port side in the picture above) we have come across in Greece so far this year, we tie up stern too. Water and electricity is free here also, like Moudros, but there is a movement to start charging for it once they can get the machines that control such things working. This being Greece, there does not appear to be any urgency toward making that happen. So be it.

It turns out that we lucked out and dropped our anchor in 13 meters of water where the bottom was less fouled with debris than the western part of the anchorage. While here, we saw one sailboat needing to hire a diver ($$$$$) to help them retrieve their fouled anchor, and watched another boat struggle in rough seas to retrieve their anchor. (More on this in a moment.)

But the day is calm and clear, and we settle in, this time prepared with bow lines to the wall for when the wind comes.

And it does come, sometimes up to 30 knots. Most of the time, the hill behind us shields us from the North and East winds, but we did have two days where there were strong westerly winds, and these two days saw fishing trawlers come in and moor side too, three abreast, off our starboard side just meters away. (This was the day some sailors / friends from the 2012 East-Med Yacht Rally came into the harbor at dusk to escape the weather, dropped anchor near the harbor's mouth, and between the rain, the wind, and the waves, and whatever they had grabbed on the bottom with their anchor, they struggled to get ready, retrieve and come in. This was also the same day that at 1815, I was asked if I could move my stern 5-10 meters to port to make room for these three fishing trawlers that we coming in. I said sure, could do tomorrow…. nope, big miss communication as he wanted me to do it in the next 15 minutes. Told him not a chance, and good thing I did because those rally friends needed that spot to tie up.)
(Three 25+ meter fishing trawlers take shelter next to me because strong winds are forecasted!)

(A snapshot from my aft deck. There is maybe 1.5 to 2 meters between me and them. Their skill in coming alongside each other and "squeezing" in between me and a sailboat whose owner could not be found was amazing to witness. 

(This is a pictures of the last of the 3 trawlers coming in. The wind and waves in the inner harbor made the entrance "interesting.")

Myrina: Nice town. It has two reasonably sized supermarkets, some great butchers, a decent hardware store, and nice restaurants. The main shopping street leads from the port past the fort toward the Greek Church in the center of town. But like in the rest of Greece, shopping hours are set in stone, and not even a cruise liner with hundreds of passengers coming ashore on a Sunday can get the shop owners to open. How sad!

The Fort is up about 900 meters from the town vertically, and occupies a large plateau. 

It has been around since Roman times and for some reason, was shelled 3 times by a passing German WWII submarine. It is in the process of being restored, with some information available. 
(Zehra at the flag!)

We found it strange that little is known about this fort. People say the information was destroyed sometime in the past, but knowing how the Ottomans kept detailed records of nearly every place they took over and restored or rebuilt, I find the lack of info to be a little disturbing. There are buildings within the fort whose purpose can only be guessed at. 

Some it its history is known, but there are huge gaps in it. The local authorities are just now trying to make the entrance way more visitor friendly and if I cared to guess, their "to-do" list must fill many books. There are plenty of opportunities to trip and fall, and some precarious paths one takes to get to the good spots.

My gut tells me that the view from the fort at night has to be breathtaking, but to climb up (or down) at night is probably life threatening. 

At the base of the fort to the North like a really nice beach with bars and cafes along the shore. This is where the young people hang out but life along this area is still pretty tame. 

Our typical day (not Sunday) is to take a walk in the mornings among the shops and the beach, and once or twice a week, go to the grocery store in the late afternoon for whatever we need. Either before or after dinner, we would again take a walk, and then settle in for the night. The night after our rally friends came in (to take refuge from the westerlies) we sat down on board their boat and caught up! 

After they left, we meet some Greek Americans from Cleveland who come to this island every year as their family is still on the island. They turn out to know a lot about the island, and they are a wealth of info.

But after two weeks, and with our visas expiring in two weeks, we start looking for a weather window so we can depart. We find one during the fourth week of September but the locals tell us for SURE there will be one the first week of October.

You can guess where this is going!

There is no good weather window. So, I want to talk with the Passport police, and the port authority people give them a call for me to help me answer what happens if we cannot leave before our visas expire. There is some room for interpretation in their answer so I go and search out their office. One would think they would be at the Port like every other passport police office has been in every other Greek Port of Entry, but not here. And the Greeks really cannot point out on a town map where their office is. They give directions like go the street with the bread store on the corner, turn left, go up three or 4 streets to the corner where there is a florist, then etc etc etc….

So, with my bicycle, I go out and search for them. Turns out they are located at the top of the shopping street, in the same building as the Greek Police, but access to them is via an unmarked door down a alley.

Good thing I checked because on the phone they said our visas were good for three months, but when queried exactly what date they expire, come to learn the visa is good for 90 days.

But, they are also quite accommodating. If we cannot leave, they will check us out, and they ask that we stay close to the boat and not go wandering around the island and that we leave when the next good weather window occurs.

Ok, so with that answer, we realize that they are not going to kick us out nor put us in jail. Good!

But the Weather God shows some mercy and on 6 Oct, we depart toward GoKceada, Turkey. But while the weather is good, the current around the island is strong, and not favorable for us so we anchor in a very quiet (eerily quiet) in Kereirio Kimonos harbor and hope the next day is better. This harbor was spooky quiet, spooky empty, spooky everything. There were no boats near by, no lights ashore, no music heard, no life recognized except for the very small fishing boats that we pass us at odd hours of the night.

We awake on 7 Oct to reasonable good weather, and fighting the current some more, make our way to KaleKoy Gokceada Turkey. We arrive in the late afternoon and after not being able to contact anyone ashore, we come into the harbor and look around. 

There is an old man waving to us to come alongside so we do, starboard side too. But he is just a bundle of nerves, not making much sense telling me to bring LeeZe closer to the restaurant boat just ahead of me, demanding I do it now, quickly, and gets so excited that somehow, he falls into the water pier side, cutting his hand, drowning his cell phone, and his wallet.

Come to learn that he is just a local fisherman, but wanted us close to the restaurant boat because BIG trawlers were coming in behind me (which they did, 6 days later!!!)

This docking excitement is not what we need. For some reason, we just cannot communicate to these highly excitable people that we will comply with their wishes, but not in the next 30 seconds, but during the next hour. Zehra really does not want to piss them off but there are times we would just like them to go away. We ask them politely, but that does no good. We do not want to get nasty but it appears that may be what needs to happen. LeeZe is 44 tons, and steel. I can get close to that restaurant boat, but want to do it with lines, not engine power. That takes time, and these "helpers" ashore are just do not have patience.

Anyway, we are in, and settled.

We are back in Turkey, so while there is no pork, and wine is expensive, there is a "farmer's market" (not a good one mind you but after not having one for so long, any market is acceptable!) and stores open all hours, fresh bread available at nearly any hour of every day, and where one can get a real shave at the barber shop! (Yup, that is right. I could find no barber in the greek towns we were in that could give me a shave, any shave! So that first one after 3 months without one, with a straight edge razor to boot, is like heaven!)

Electricity at this port is erratic, with voltage being all over the map. (My thanks AGAIN To Arild, who designed my electrical system to handle these erratic shore power availabilities. (He has recently passed and I hope that wherever he is, he is enjoying his new life there with gusto! )) 

Water is also available, but arrangements have to be made with the Port Captain to turn it on.

The port itself is about 5-6 kilometers from town, and one rides a dolmus (12 person minibus that runs on a set route that one hails to get on or off) to get there. As this island is very near to the Istanbul Straits, it has strategic value and that is obvious from the military presence on the island.

We have decided to winter over in Çanakkale, Turkey so to make the arrangements, Zehra takes a day trip involving 4 ferries, 4 bus rides, and lots of waiting to and from Çanakkale to get the info first hand.

Meanwhile, I have some work I want to do, and try to find someone who could haul the tender and pressure wash the sea growth off its bottom. Although the port captain said he would find someone, he does not come thru so that chore is left for another day.

There is not much to this island, and having had some pretty rotten luck with finding god weather windows, we decide that the first good one we get we will depart.

That turns out to be 7 Oct, and we depart. The run is very uneventful but it gets boring very quick when we are bucking a 2-3 knot current going up the Dardanelles to Çanakkale. The last 12 nm takes more than 6 hours. I had expected the Dardanelles to be very busy, but it was not as busy as expected. 

Cutting across the down leg lane to get into the up leg lane took more than an hour and then going further west to try to find good water with little current took even longer. 

But we eventually arrive in Çanakkale,
med moor right in front of the office, and conclude this season. We will have to move west a little later because that is where the stronger lazy lines are installed, but we are in, safe and sound. As this is a city marina, the bathrooms and showers are not as elegant as private marinas, but we will manage.

The city is some 50-75 meters from our pasarella, and it appears to be always lively, as there are universities in town. A few days after arrival we go to Kusadasi to pick up our car, stay with a superb friend, have a great steak and potatoes meal with 11 more friends, 
and depart the next morning back to Çanakkale.

That concludes this blog entry. Of course, comments and questions are warmly welcomed. If you receive the link to this blog via a personal email, and no longer wish to, just me me know and I will remove you from the list. No hard feelings, OK?

Thanks for taking the time

Lee and Zehra Aboard MV LeeZe

Çanakkale, Turkey

PS: OK, now I promised to fill in the gap between Mytilini and Molivos.

Turkey had Presidential elections on 10 August so to ensure that Zehra could vote, we departed Mytilini on 4 August and dropped anchor in Ayvalik so Zehra could catch a plane to Ankara and vote.

We did not want to go thru the hassle of checking out of Greece and then checking back in so we did this surreptitiously. We had some excitement on the crossing. Turns out the hydraulic rudder arm the steering system uses separated from the rudder post itself and the clunk I heard when that 55 kg arm dropped to the steel deck was AWESOME!

Thank GOD the weather was clear, calm, the seas nearly flat and no one was around us. (Zehra says that I have no "Cojones"  and tend to wait for the "perfect" weather to get to the next port, and I do tend to wait for good weather. Had this failure occurred in windy or rough weather, the recovery would have been a hell of a lot more complicated, and dicey, and un-nerving!)

Tried to jury rig something but failed.

So, while at idle, in deep water, disassembled the clevis connector, reattached the hydraulic arm to the clevis, and repined the clevis to the rudder post. Zehra is at the helm with the words to drop the anchor if we get into water some 10 meters deep of less. Never had done this before. And, thankfully, we hardly move while I do the repair!

The failure could have been worse because if it had happened 30 minutes later, we would have been in a very narrow channel approaching Ayvalik with very little margin for error.

So, after reassembling, we go to shallow water, anchor and I have Zehra move the rudder left and right a dozen times and verify that this is not going to fall apart again. With that test complete and sat, we slowly motor our way thru the narrow channel (hand steering just in case) and drop the hook off the city wall (Ayvalik#1 above)

That turns out to be a mistake because the traffic from the day charter boats is just too much so we opt to go further into the harbor and anchor in a quieter area.  (Ayvalik #2 on the map above!)

Ayvalik's harbor is NOT clean. One would not want to take a swim in this harbor. The only place to moor pier side was at the fishermen's port on the North side of the harbor and they wanted over $50 a night to moor. Compared to what we were paying for a med moor spot in the Greek Islands, we consider this to be highway robbery!

Anyway, Zehra got to vote,
(Here she is at a waterside cafe just before going to vote!)

we stocked up at a large grocery story, and then got underway for Molivos, arriving there on 15 August. (One thing we forgot to stock up on is tea. If you are a tea drinker, compared to the price in Turkey, tea prices are through the roof so if one likes tea, buy it in Turkey before going west!)

We had no more rudder problems the rest of the trip, but this winter, will take it apart and reassemble it using some techniques the engineer I talked with from the factory suggested.

For those that are interested, here are some screen shots of our trip:
Mitilini > Ayvalik

Ayvalik >Molivos > Moudros

Moudros > Myrina> to an anchorage overnight >Gokceada

Gokceada > Çanakkale, Turkey 

Çanakkale City Marina

04 September 2014

Where is LeeZe? July Bademli > Sept 2014 Moudros

2014-07-10 Mytilini

We transit from Bademli, Turkey to Mytilini, Lesbos, Greece and like fools, we try to comply with all of the rules fro checking into a foreign country. We fly the Greek Flag, the "Q" flag underneath, and we hail the Port Captain / Port Authorities upon our arrival.

What to others do? They med moor or side-to moor to the city wall and then check-in (or not as a few of our neighbors chose not to) after.

But not us. So, because we comply with the rules, we are directed to tie up where the big inter-island ferries tie up for passport and customs. The fenders are bigger than LeeZe! The guy from the Port Authority direct us to tie up there but informs us that "It is NOT my job to handle your lines!" Huh!???? The wall there is so high, and the fenders are so wide there is no safe way to put anyone ashore. I insist he handle my lines or I will go an anchor and use the tender to check in. He reluctantly handles my lines. (I learn later he wants me to use the Port's line handlers (at a 100 euro charge per person).)

He then informs me I have 30 minutes to check in before I have to move. Under my breath, I laugh! My guess is that it will take nearly 3 hours to check in but I say OK.

Our first stop is the Customs and Transit Log office. It takes 20 minutes to find a person to handle us, and she takes 10 more just to get the blank entry and transit log papers, and CARBON PAPER.

Then she makes me fill out a form (I have all the info already printed but she says it needs to be on her form.) So, I write. She takes that form, fills it out, gets me to sign that paper (all in Greek, no English) and throws away the form I filled out. For all I know, I just could have signed up for 20 years in their military!

She then gives to me another form to fill out (nearly the same info is requested) which I do. She transcribes that info to the transit log (some English), fussing with carbon paper along the way, more transcribing, more carbon paper fussing, and then gives me the transit log to sign, which I do.

She then tracks down another person who goes to the safe and breaks out the entry stamp for the transit log, and with quite a flair, stamps the log, and asks for 30 euros.

(For the record, I have a embossed boat seal stamp that I use after I sign one of these documents. There was one document I had to sign concerning that there was no dead or infectious people on board and this document had a place for a boat seal in the corner. It seems that none of my documents that I present to these officials are questioned when they see that seal.)

More than 1 hour has passed.

I come out of that office and the Port Authority guy is in a huff because somewhere either I missed a conversation or misunderstood one because he has been looking for me to show me where his office is, more than 30 minutes has passed, and that only I am allowed off the boat, not Zehra!

So, Zehra goes back on board, I walk with him to see where his office is, and then I go back to Customs to get directions to Passport Control.

Now in Turkey, the Passport Police want to see both of us. Greece? One is enough. I present my passports to the person behind the desk but when he sees that they are not EU passports, he has to go find someone else.

I wait. 15 minutes later, a person shows up. hands to me a form to fill out with nearly the same info required as before. I fill it out. He transcribes it to another form and a ledger, throws out the form I filled in, and gets me to sign his form (again all in Greek!). He then goes and finds another person who is the keeper of the "stamp" and well, you can get the picture.

The passports and transit log are stamped and I am asked for 15 euros. I know from previous entries that I pay 45 euros to enter, but this is the first time I paid it at two different places. I believe the 30 euros is for the transit log, and the 15 euros is for LeeZe's entry. But, not 100% sure.

But before I depart, I am asked a multitude of questions. Fo you have on board any alcohol, drugs, knives, guns, food, fuel, etc etc etc? I tell the guy that the boat is our home so of course there is alcohol on board for us to drink, and not to sell; drugs, of course our medicines, we are not young any more; knives, plenty we are on a boat, need knives to cut ropes; fuel: about 4 tons, and by this time, he is just waving me out the door. ( I wonder if the guy asks these same questions to the mega-yachts? Probably not because they use agents. The only question that seemed to be relevant is the gun question. I said no, but I do have two flare guns!)

Now, I leave the Passport and Customs building and walk to the Port Authority. Here, I fill out more forms, but do not pay anything. They tell me I can go to berth 27 on the wall and can side-to moor if only for a couple of days, or med moor if staying longer. I ask if there are any line handlers that can help me and there are none. I ask about the line handling at the customs dock and am told everyone provides their own. More on this subject later. I am also told that the cost per day at the wall for me is about 6-7 euros ($8.75) per day. (The actual Euro daily rate is "length of boat in meters" times 1.16 (Greek VAT) times 0.36. This is also the same calc that will be used in other ports I am told.) Water and electricity is per a pay-as-you-go system. Buy a five euro card and that gives you an unknown quantity of electricity and water from the shore power pods. No one knows how much. Absolutely no one! And by the time we depart, I still cannot tell you how much 5 euros buys. (The cost here is about 60-70% cheaper than what we pay at city docks in Turkey!)

So, some 3 hours and 20 minutes has passed and I get back to LeeZe. Zehra must have thought I was arrested or something. (Remember the Port Authority guy said 30 minutes max? What a hoot!)

So, we depart the Customs dock and approach #27. The wind is blowing so I set the anchor into the wind and back down to verify it is holding. Seeing no one on the wall, I take a long line from LeeZe's stern to the wall using the tender and secure it. Back on board, Zehra gently backs down as I take in the line. We have a few moments of excitement getting close to another boat (no one on board) but the wind blows me away thankfully and we get close enough to secure aft lines. As this is the first time we have done this ourselves, we are slow and somewhat timid, so this maneuver takes some 2 hours.

We work, it works, and we are in. Tired, but in. We set a port bow line to the wall because our anchor is out to starboard and we have learned that if the wind shifts, this port line comes in real handy!

On 11 July, the wind does shift and starts to blow, and again, we are in danger of our stern hitting the wall. We do what we must and that keeps us off the wall. But it is precarious. We learn our neighbor to starboard is leaving the next day so we decide to take his spot after he leaves. Why? It turns out we set the anchor too much into the wind so if we slide our stern to starboard, it will be better.

So, on 12 July, our neighbors leave and using lines only, we slide left two berth spaces. MUCH better. We get closer to the shore power pod, out from behind a enclosed bus stop, and the gentle breezes are now unimpeded. We surprise ourselves as how easy this move was. I now set a starboard bow line to the wall, and reset the port one due to the move. LeeZe is now safely tied up.

It is Saturday so shops and markets close at 1430 or so and will reopen on Monday. We are told that supermarkets open at 0800 and close 2000, 6 days a week. There are at least three on the SW side of the port, and while we are not in need of anything, we take an early walk, find them, and look around. We eat out, and I just cannot resist a real pork sausage dinner.

22 July: So, it has been 12 days since check in. You can say we like it. But, thinking that time might mellow some experiences, I thought I would wait before addressing some issues.

Honest Bicycle Repair Shop  39°06.681'N,  26°33.448'E
Not so Honest Bicycle Repair Shop  39°06.688'N  26°33.406'E
(Both are on the road between the Old Port and the City Harbor but without street # and names, lat and long will have to do!)

Between then and now, we have found that the city is ABSOLUTELY dead on Sundays except for a military band that shows up at 0800 and sunset on Sundays, raises or removes a Greek flag at a small monument near to the city dock, plays the National Anthem, and then marches away.

We go to the beach on Sundays because there is nothing else to do. On weekdays, shops open at 0800 and close about 1430. Depending on the day, they may or may not reopen in the evening (1830-2100). (Huh?) The fish sellers open at dawn, and many are cleaning up and closing by 1000. (Octopus is in high demand here and if the local fishing trawler returns without, there is no fresh to buy the next day.)  Shops open from 0800-1400 on Saturdays if they are going to open.. Shops will not be open on Sundays, even if there is a cruise liner in.

We cannot help but compare this experience to what we see in Turkey. Maybe the Greeks have a better work - play balance because if this city was in Turkey, the shops would be open 7 days a week 12-14 hours a day.

18-20 July We had guests this weekend (arrived Friday late, departed early Monday).

We ate at Rebetis in the Old Port on Friday +30 225 104 0740. Great Fish dinner. We walked there and back, and around the harbor. Many were out and about! The street we took to the restaurant was lined with all types of shops, none of them open. And the street was filled with walkers. Again, I cannot help but think what it would be like if this street was in Turkey.

We rented a car (last one available in town, or so it seemed!) on Saturday to tour the northern part of the island. Our guests have been here before many times so they showed us the best spots. The first stop was Skala Sikamineas where we ate under a giant Mulberry tree at Scamnia Restaurant +30 225 305 5318 / 5419 www.Skamnia.net.gr or www.underthetree.gr. Our guests wanted lobster but compared to vsits in the past, it was way too $$$. The restaurants hang octopus outside on lines to show people they have it.

Then on to Petra,

a cute town where we walked and enjoyed a village somewhat untouched by time. Then, our last stop was Molyvos where we climbed to the castle, walked down to the fishing port, sat and had some drinks, and then dinner at Triaina Restaurant and Hotel (5 rooms all taken!) Tel +30 225 307 1350/51. Our guests were here last year and sang a little bit (both are opera singers) so with their voices and guitar, then regaled the crowd at dinner for about 45 minutes.

It was a long day but we had a blast!

Some additional comments: On Monday, 14 July, in the afternoon, we were the ONLY boat at the city wall.

We were alone until Thursday, when one boat showed up. For the last two weekends, there may be 4-6 boats at the wall. We were thinking that the city wall would be packed in July but we were mistaken.

No boat, not even the huge 30 meter sailboat from the UK did what we did and first tie up at the customs dock and check-in. All come to the wall, tie up, and then check-in.

Some use an agent. We tried to find one before arriving but could not. It turns out we saved 105 euros (over $140) by doing it ourselves.

A couple of boats came up to the dock, load fuel (walk to the gas station as the city does not allow fuel trucks at the city wall), water and groceries, and departed the next day. They neither checked in nor paid for the berth.

There is a SETUR marina to the South of the city wall. It is in a quiet area of town and somewhat of a walk to get to where the "action" is. They have a fuel dock and I could not help but wonder why my sail boat neighbors were trekking to the gas station and lugging back fuel. Finally, I asked!. The marina will sell you the fuel you need but they also will charge you for one night's stay. That same company has marinas in Turkey and they do not have that policy there!

We found fruit and veggies to be $$$, but most meat (less ground beef) and pork is cheaper than Turkey. Chicken is about the same. At night the ice cream venders and stores sell an upscale ice cream at about 3 times the cost in Turkey. Normal dinners are about 20-30% higher, but fish dinners are about 50% cheaper. Restaurants sell table wine by the kilogram and Ouzo, the national drink is sold in small 200 ml bottles. (Unlike Turkey, larger bottles are just not listed on the menu.)

Octopus, fried, cooked in wine sauce, and sautéed in olive oil and garlic is the rage here, and is quite tasty. Squid / calamari is also the rage but large shrimps, not so much. Based on the prices in the restaurants, Octopus, squid and smallish shrimps are the most plentiful. We also found a great butcher, a decent bread shop and a great hardware shop on Archipelagous Street, a two minute walk across the main road and down an alley from where we were docked. There are also plenty of fruits and vegetables stands in the same area. This same streets and streets attached to it are the main shopping streets so when the cruse liners are in, these streets are packed!

What else do we do? Usually in the morning we are out and about. Afternoons, we take a respite from the sun and the heat. We eat dinner either in or out at after sunset, take a walk about the harbor,

and then people watch, lately from two great chairs high up on the boat deck.

Our plans? As of this day, stay awhile and then leave. For sure we will be here until Ramazan is over in Turkey, and the Sugar Holiday (Seker Bayrami) after Ramazan is also finished. At a restaurant Sunday night, the owners were cooking lots of extra food as they expect the Turks will be over here in droves for Seker Bayrami (28-30 July). We were told that there are few hotel rooms left for that period, ferry boat tickets are also hard to come by and that the dock could be crowded. So, we plan to stay and see what all the fuss is about.

30 July. I did not see what the fuss was all about. This is the end of the holiday. The city wall was not full (there was room for at least 6-8 sail boats), and while the city was crowded, it was no more or less crowded than other weekend periods. I also did not see droves of people streaming out from the ferries. Maybe I missed it all.

2014-08-04 We depart Mytilini, make a "brief" pit stop (more later in ANOTHER blog) and arrive in Molyvos (Northern tip of Lesbos) on 15 Aug. Our intentions are to stay a few days and them depart for Limnos. But… the weather and our intentions just do not mix.

Molyvos. It is a very nice town, with a castle / fort on a hill that rises probably some 600+ meters above the water.

We were here with our guests last month but now we have time to "smell the roses."

The town itself nestles on the side of the hill that the castle / fort tops

so for the most part, you are either walking up or down to get to wherever you want to go.

In the port, there are about 8+ restaurants and bars that seem constantly busy at night, and hardly an empty table is to be had come 2100 or so.

A walk up the hill from the port

leads you to the the road cut into the side of the hill that connects Molyvos with the rest of the island. In the middle is another rode that rises UP toward the castle where many of the shops are. The only butcher we found is on the first level of this road, and above him are two grocery stores. There is also a grocery store at the edge of town.

So, if one needs supplies, one climbs and walks.

There is a "village train"

that runs between Molyvos and Petra. We took it one day and walked around.

Petra is more touristy than Molyvos, with beaches and tourist shops, but it looks like a town that come October, one rolls up the sidewalks and puts them away, to come out the following April. The beaches face the Northern Aegean so when there are storms and winds, they get pounded.

We found a hotel that use to be a olive oil factory in Molyvos that also has a beach, We went there a few times for the day (2.50 euros each for a chaise lounge, free wi-fi) and spent the day. To walk there, one goes up and down a hill. So, we cheated and took the tender. Nice!

The port is made up of an inner and outer harbor.

Visiting yachts tie up along the west wall, stern too. A couple of sail boats tried mooring side too, but the Port Authorities made them change. It all appears that one can tie up at the east wall (saw two Greek power cruisers there) but as the two charter boats, and the Greek Coast Guard boat use that area for "touch and goes" landings, I think one would need to pre-arrange with the Port Authority. We saw a sailboat anchor just outside the outer harbor but about an hour later, an outgoing fisherman gave them a note and they moved closer to the old olive oil factory. We saw two "Cats" come in, both after 1800. One anchored off the harbor for most of the day, and then came in. We come to learn that "Cats" can come in after 1800 and cannot stay more than one night. There was a 70' that came in and stayed a few days, and ran his generator from 07-2400. so if one visits, leave the end empty and moor closer in to stay as far away from those guys as possible. The dock was only full one night while we were there. The price per day was calculated the same way as Mytilini and for this port, electricity and water were included.

Fuel. Like Mytilini, sailor boaters lugged fuel from the gas station that is on the edge of town. But I come to learn that if one talks with the two charter boat operators, they get a Shell fuel truck to top them off once per week and the truck can also top off boats. There is a catch: One has to move to the "touch and go" place to load fuel, and then move back. (One can also get a fuel truck to come to you if you are at the huge concrete dock in Petra, some 4 nm away.)

But there is only so much one can do in Molyvos so we keep an eye on the weather. The next run is 60 nm and so we need a good weather window of at least 12 hours, but prefer 18+. There was one in the third week of August but for personal reasons, we do not go. So the next window is seems to be 28 Aug based on the weather forecast. However, late on the 27, "they" change their minds and the window narrows to < 12 hours. Zehra is disappointed because I promised we would go on this day, so I have learned my lesson. Make no promises when it comes to the weather. So, we settle in and the next window appears to be Tuesday.

2014-09-02. It is Tuesday! The day starts at 0445 when I get up. The weather window is good thru 2100 so I was hoping to depart around 0500 and get to Moudros or Myrina on Limnos before it closes. But, it is so dark that I determine that I need some sunlight to safely depart. (I had watched 2 boats depart that had their anchors fouled by harbor debris so even though mine looked clear based on my last swim, I did not want to be clearing a fouled anchor in darkness.)

Sunlight comes and we leave at 0645 w/o a problem. There is a following sea and wind which gives us a slight boost in speed. But this is really a two wave-point hop, separated by 51 nm. 

So, after departure, Zehra goes back to sleep and I pilot LeeZe toward that second point.

We arrive at Limnos Island's SE corner at about 1500 give or take and about an hour earlier, we decided NOT to go on to Myrina (Limnos' main port) as that is another 3+ hours and while the weather is nice, we can see storm clouds coming toward us from the west. So, we enter a large bay and make our way toward Moudros.

In Mytilini, I bought a chart pack for the Northern Aegean (90 euros!) and now I am glad I did. The port guide we have tells us that there is one pier to tie up at Moudros but the chart pack shows three. It also shows that there is a narrow channel to them, but our electronic navigation chart is somewhat "vague" on the details. There are some channel markers shown on the chart pack and for sure, they are there in real life. Whew!

So, per the chart pack, we hail the harbormaster on Channel 12 ( we come to learn that that does NOT happen very often) and after a brief exchange, we are offered a place at the end of the first pier on the left as we enter. (Turns out there was only ONE place empty!) Her English is somewhat limited so she cannot answer our question if we are to moor side, or stern too.

So, we enter the harbor, where at one point, Zehra reports that the depth under the keel is 0.8 meters but as we venture further in, it settles in at 1 meter. We see the spot, and determine it is a side mooring.

We drop the anchor so we can prepare for a port side too mooring (for the record, LeeZe handles like s__t when mooring port side too) because to make it a starboard side too mooring, I would have to swing around in a small basin that the chart pack shows has a depth of 1-2 meters.

We moor with the help of other boaters (did scrape the rub rail so we will need some blue paint!) and we are in and settled by 1730. Shore power and water are at the pier but for now, we need neither.

I am bone tired but after getting the lay of the land from other boaters, Zehra takes a walk into town while I "decompress." Dinner in left overs and bedtime comes early. The weather as predicted turns quite windy at about 2100 and gusts up to 30+ blow most of the night. But we are in, the wind is blowing us on to the pier, and that is OK. Zeghra reports that her initial view is that the town is small and quiet, and has few if any tourists. Throughout the evening, we have people come by and look at LeeZe. Our boat neighbors tell us that many will come to check out the new boat at the pier, so one can surmise the level of entertainment this town has to offer to its locals.

Our plans: Stay until the next good weather window to Myrina but that could be next week.

That concludes this blog entry. Of course, comments and questions are warmly welcomed. If you receive the link to this blog via a personal email, and no longer wish to, just me me know and I will remove you from the list. No hard feelings, OK?

Thanks for taking the time

Lee and Zehra Aboard MV LeeZe

Moudros Limnos Gr

PS Why the extended period without a report? I cannot now say, but do promise I will.